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Riddlesdown SSSI

Chalk grassland and yew woodland combine to make this North Downs landscape particularly special for wildlife lovers

Riddlesdown nature reserve is a small enclosed area of a wooded slope that forms part of a much larger area of the Riddlesdown Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI); mostly owned and managed by the City of London Corporation.

Riddlesdown supports the largest single expanse of old calcareous scrub in London. The Trust’s reserve within it consists of a pocket of chalk grassland surrounded by a mosaic of chalk scrub of hawthorn, dogwood, hazel and whitebeam, with a developing woodland of yew, sycamore and ash. It is a valuable habitat for birds and invertebrates.


Species you can see at Riddlesdown SSSI

Birds: Skylark, meadow pipit, fieldfare, redwing

Invertebrates: Chalkhill blueRoesel's bush-cricket

Mammals: Badger, dormouse

Plants: Juniper, dog’s mercury, common spotted-orchid, hedge bedstraw, wild strawberry, marjoram, salad burnet, primrose, dog violet, white hellborine


History of Riddlesdown SSSI

Thousands of years of human activity on Riddlesdown have left a range of features, including earthworks, old trackways and a Roman road. At one time common land, it was threatened with enclosure following the opening of the nearby railway in the 1850s and following the efforts of a local family, City of London Corporation purchased most of the site in 1883 for public benefit. In more recent times, livestock have grazed pasture and kept open the characteristic downland landscape. The Trust acquired the reserve in 1999 from the British Railways Board.


Management of Riddlesdown SSSI

The chalk grassland is cut each year in late summer to prevent scrub encroachment. The majority of Riddlesdown SSSI, managed by City of London Corporation rangers, is subject to grazing, hay-making and rotational coppicing.


Facilities at Riddlesdown SSSI

There are no public facilities available in the reserve. The wider Riddlesdown SSSI area has paved footpaths, wayfinding signs and a car park.




How to get to Riddlesdown SSSI

The entrance to the Trust’s site is via a stepped footpath in Garston Lane. It is a 10-minute walk from Kenley Rail Station, following Godstone Road south until you see the steps on the left side leading to Garston Road. There is a bus stop, serviced by the 407 bus route, adjacent to the steps.


Opening times for Riddlesdown SSSI

Open at all times.


Accessibility at Riddlesdown SSSI

The footpaths and banks are steep. However, the wider Riddlesdown SSSI area is accessible via Riddlesdown Road, which runs from north to south through the area and is either paved or gravel. This passes the edge of the Trust site. There is also a car park on Riddlesdown Road accessible from the northern end. Walk up from the Godstone Road via a steep gravel track, bearing off into woodland to reach the reserve.


Status of Riddlesdown SSSI

Within a SSSI, Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, Metropolitan Green Belt


Get involved at Riddlesdown SSSI 


Nearby nature reserves

Dollypers Hill
1 miles - Surrey Wildlife Trust
Bramley Bank
3 miles - London Wildlife Trust
Ledgers Wood
3 miles - Surrey Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Riddlesdown Road
Greater London
Map reference
Great for...
Best time to visit
Apr - Sep
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Opening Times
Open at all times
1.87 hectares
Car park at Riddlesdown, 10-15min walk from site
Dogs allowed
Grazing animals
Grazing occurs in the surrounding Riddlesdown SSSI, which one needs to traverse to reach our reserve
Reserve manager
Shaun Marriott
Tel: 07710 194 268


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